CLEVELAND — Most people who root for the Cleveland Cavaliers aren’t exactly fans of LeBron James.
No surprise there, as James left the franchise for the Miami Heat via free agency in the summer of 2010. And he announced the decision on a nationally televised hour-long special.
But have Cavs fans gotten over James?
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Well, kind of. They certainly have a few reasons. For one, it’s been nearly two years since James made his decision to leave. For another, the Cavs have someone who looks to be a future star himself in rookie point guard Kyrie Irving.
So when it comes to out-and-out hatred of James … well, it appears many Cavs fans are moving on. At the very least, they’re trying.
“I’m over it,” said Mike Tricarichi of Columbus. “We had a bad breakup, but now we have a fantastic, young new girlfriend.”
Added Josh Jeffi of Brunswick, Ohio: “LeBron is a player for the Heat and that is all. I wouldn’t want him to play here again, but I’m over it.”
James and the Heat make their lone Cleveland appearance of the season Friday (7:30 p.m., FOX Sports Ohio). They are coming off a trip to the NBA Finals and are considered by many as the favorites to come out of the East again this year.
Interestingly, James hinted that he might be open to someday returning to the Cavs during Thursday’s practice. But that’s a whole different matter entirely.
“I don’t think he’d be welcome,” said Cavs guard Daniel Gibson. “Not with the way that went down. It was a pretty tough situation. I’m sure (fans) wouldn’t feel comfortable with that at all.”
Maybe, maybe not. None of that stuff actually seems to really matter to Cavs fans.
Today, James is a member of the Heat. And today, Cavs fans seem perfectly content to root for their own team — and leave it at that.
“I am over it now,” said Cory Schleappi of Massillon, Ohio. “I see an occasional highlight that makes me say “damn!” and is soon followed by the feeling you get when you see your ex-girlfriend looking mighty fine at the club.
“But all is forgotten, or at least overshadowed, due to our new super-model girlfriend Kyrie Irving. Being excited about this kid’s potential in an understatement. He is already in elite class with the kind of numbers (and wins) he has been able to put up with this roster. It’s a roster that plays hard but is less talented than what LeBron played with as a rookie.”
Some fans even admitted that James and his averages of 28.0 points, 8.2 rebounds and 6.8 assists deserve nothing but praise.
“I respect LeBron as a basketball player; he is one of the best in the league and I hold no anger toward him,” said Kyle Kretch of Columbus. “Although I’m done rooting against him, I will never root for him for what he did to the city and the Cavs. Once you do something wrong, (fans) don’t forget.”
Kayla Robertson of Warren, Ohio, more or less seconded that thought.
“I am over LeBron and I believe the majority of Clevelanders are too,” she said. “The first home game vs. the Heat (in December 2010) was about getting all of that anger out.
“LeBron has apologized, in his own way, and fans have either forgiven him or they haven’t. He will be booed (Friday), but not so much for the reason of how he choose to leave, but because he is not a Cleveland Cavalier.”
Meanwhile, some fans say the fact James failed to win a title in his first season with the Heat helped soften their feelings toward him.
“My biggest issue was him saying he left Cleveland because he didn’t have the help he needed to win a championship, and then hyping he would win multiple rings with (Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh),” said Alex Dang of Toledo. “Since that didn’t happen, to me, he’s just a player on another team playing against the Cavs.”
Miguel Zamora of Tuscon, Ariz., agreed.
“All I needed was for LeBron to not win the title in his first year (with Miami) since he thought it would be easy,” he said. “I could care less now. It’s like he was never a Cavalier. I’m over it and moving on with Kyrie.”
Zamora then concluded his thoughts in the same fashion as so many others who spoke on the topic.
“Go Cavs!” he said, and he meant the guys who are on the team today.